rev Sept 2021
I am one of those who likes to know something about the people who are telling me things, for example my teachers, authors, bosses. Just so I know better where they are coming from. So in case you are like this, here are a few words about me.
This website began as a radio hobbyist site, and therefore I will concentrate on my radio background, but with also a few other facts as well. In 2021 I have commenced with a licence plate section to go along with my newly-revived interest in collecting licence plates. In that section I have included a historical section so will not say more on that topic here. As for radio I have been involved with radio communications for more than 60 years, and currently at my advanced age have the privilege of using a sophisticated radio system every work day.
I grew up in a small town on Vancouver Island in the 50's and recall as quite a young child being interested in what could be received on our kitchen radio besides the local stations. Back then people listened to the radio a lot, for information and for entertainment. The entertainment was not just music, it was also drama series. For some reason I recall there being a local radio series called, John Gray, Marine Investigator, as well as some of the national and American radio dramas. . On the AM radio in our kitchen, If I turned the tuning knob all the way down to the bottom of the dial, I could hear a tone that went dash dash dash, dash dot dot dash, then a long tone, then repeating. It was intriguing for sure and it wasn't until a long time later that I learned it was an aero radio beacon at Comox, which was a military airfield about 30 miles away. That was my first recalled radio monitoring experience, and that was more than 65 years ago! As I grew older, television arrived around 1960 in the form of a couple of black and white channels and that spelled the end of a lot of radio programming. But like most other young people going into and through their teens I listened to Top 40 radio, and knew all the songs, and still do today. That music will never die. So I did listen to radio in a conventional way, and during the 60's my stations were CFUN, CKWX, and CKLG. It was one at a time as they cycled through format changes, but my longest standing station was CFUN, said as "C-FUN", broadcasting from Vancouver on 1410 kHz.
As I entered my teens I didn't just listen to the radio. My interests did involve social things, but also I was into hiking in the mountains behind our community, and eventually when I got my licence I also explored the backwoods on my Honda 90 trail bike. As for radio, I really got into it in the latter part of 1963 when I began dx'ing.. listening for distant stations, and first heard stations from across the continent on the AM broadcast band. It may have started when after listening to C-FUN on 1410 into the night, it would go off the air at around midnight, maybe not every night, but at least once a week, and when its transmitter went silent I could hear another station take its place, much weaker, but listenable. Usually it was a station in Wyoming, but sometimes others were stronger than it was. I am not sure that this was the trigger but it certainly helped get me into distance reception (DX).
I then for the next decade or more entered
into listening on the AM band for stations near and far, with my first
transcontinental reception happening in late 1963. While it was a thrill
for me, it really was nothing special in that era, as there were AM radio
frequencies that had only one or two stations on them at night, and they took
over the airwaves. For me to hear WSB in Atlanta from BC sounds great but
really anyone with any kind of decent antenna could do that.
After my start in AM monitoring I also did shortwave listening and then the main
specialty of monitoring the 2 MHz marine radio band, listening to ships along the
west coast, and coast stations all around North America. I will not go
into more detail here. I cannot claim in any of this to have been an
expert, and really had only minimal equipment. In this era I sent
off many reception reports and have to this day all my verifications (QSL's),
and there is a small page about them on this website. My dedicated listening to
long distance radio waned when I joined the navy and then pretty much ended with
marriage and responsibilities. But one part of radio accelerated and
continued, and that was monitoring the public safety bands on VHF, and as far as
Nova Scotia was concerned became a bit of an expert on the topic, and this
website came from it.
In the early 1970's, followng 4 years at the University of Victoria, I joined the Canadian Armed Forces and entered into a short-lived professional radio career. I joined and trained as what is now called a Naval Warfare Officer, who in general navigate and fight the ship. NWO's also have a specialty and mine was Communications and Electronic Warfare. So although I was only in the navy for a short period of time I did spend time on the bridge, as Officer of the Watch, and more or less controlling the ship's movements, and as well in my specialty dealt with such things as the daily NATO codes, for which I needed a NATO Top Secret clearance. I was nominally in charge of the Radio, Signalling and EW sections of the ship, but even then I knew that as a green officer I knew less than practically anyone under me in my department. I did learn to communicate clearly and according to standards on the radio, and this has helped me in my current occupation mentioned below. I did quickly learn that I was not suited to being cooped up in the ship in a shared cabin, and had met my future wife, so resigned my commission and returned to civilian life, and back to school.
Following a stint at Saint Mary's University I became an educator in the NS public school system. I started as a high school geography teacher, as my degree from Victoria is in that field. After a few years I took more courses and became a guidance counsellor, and was one for many years. In the last phase of my school career I became a registrar, who is the specialist in scheduling a school. In addition to my main career in the school system I also on the side began to teach driving. For about 20 years I instructed in the car and taught classes, all in addition to my regular school career. Later from 2002 to 2020 I taught driver education classes, but not out in the car, and had up to 45 students in front of me at a time. I also spent time at Dalhousie University as a career counsellor, again in addition to my school work. After I finally retired from the school system in 2015 I became a dispatch operator at the Shubenacadie Radio Communications Centre, known commonly as Shubie Radio. In this job I use the TMR radio system all day and have a multitude of talkgroups at my disposal. We communicate with mobile law enforcement and allied personnel such as Conservation Officers, Vehicle Compliance Officers, Sheriffs, Animal Welfare, Environmental Compliance, and Parks Canada. We also do flight following for the four Natural Resources helicopters. Another aspect is to take calls from the public regarding dead and injured animals, hunting infractions, wildfires, etc. We also call out several small fire departments in various parts of the province. Finally, and this list is not complete, we also monitor the provincial government's network of radio sites for intrusions and technical faults, and dispatch personnel to remedy these situations. Having left behind my high school career and part-time driver education career, I am now in my element late in life, getting to use radio every work day. It is very enjoyable and you never know what will happen in the next minute!
In my hobby life I still listen to radio as well Occasionally I try for distant reception on the FM broadcast band, but my main "thing" nowadays is to listen in on VHF aero communications. This combines my interests in aircraft and radio, and while I know you will think it very nerdy, I do have this on most of the time in my car! I do enjoy knowing what is flying over me, or about to land or takeoff from the airport, and then see it actually happen if I am there.